Riley

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The Mirror Lakes

Today I wanted to share some of the photos I took of New Zealand’s famous Mirror Lakes. The Mirror Lakes are a quick stop and short walk on the road to the Milford Sound. The road to the Milford Sound is 158.1 miles, so it is a couple hour drive depending on how fast you’re going. It is amusing to know that the drive can be made more bearable by the variety of stops that can be made along the way. I’ll be posting an extensive blog post on how exactly to road trip to Milford Sound soon, along with my suggestions!

Enjoy the photos and comment below what you think! Would you visit New Zealand’s Mirror Lakes?

At first glance I thought the sign had fallen, then I realized why it is upside down….

The snow capped the mountain tops, but it wasn’t too cold from where we stood. All we wore was a light jacket.The snowcaps blended in with the cloudy white sky. I tried to distinguish the two with editing!

THANKS FOR READING!

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Skydiving in Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, New Zealand is one of the adventure capitals of the world. Known for its breathing mountain range, the Southern Alps, and Lake Wakatipu, it is a diverse tourist attraction full of entertainment and adrenaline filled activities. It is a must see in New Zealand, no doubt. I would suggest everyone make a conscious effort to visit!

While in Queenstown for my semester break, I decided to take the risk and jump out of a plane 9,000 ft from the ground. My overall experience was that it was extremely well done and an opportunity I will remember for my lifetime.

I wanted to make a blog post outlining how I sky dove in New Zealand and provide my recommendations for those who want to do it too!

How did I find information?

A lot of the information I found about Queenstown and skydiving, as well as a lot of the information I find about everything in general, was found by researching the experiences of others. Blog posts, magazine articles, and newspaper spreads, I was able to find all the information I needed about skydiving in New Zealand. I recommend you do the same if you want other opinions aside from mine!

What skydiving association should you use?

After I compiled my tips, I decided the best company to use to sky dive in Queentown was Nzone. My package was $299 to jump from 9,000 ft. The other packages prices are as follows:

9,000ft = $299

12,000ft = $349

15,000ft = $449

DOCUMENTATION

I also chose to purchase the photo and video package with the handicam photos and video for $199. This package includes a custom GoPro video of the experience recorded by my tandem master. The video consists of footage on the ground before your dive, a personal interview, the flight into the sky, the aircraft exit, skydive free fall, parachute ride and landing. There was other packages to choose from and the prices are as follows:

Handicam Photos Video = $199

Freefall Photos Video = $289

The Ultimate Combo = $359

More information about these packages can be found here.

I found the handicam photo and video package to suffice the documentation of my overall experience. The footage was beautiful and the stills captured the intensity and immense beauty of my surroundings. I think it is perfect and not too budget breaking.

How it works

My friends and I purchased our tandem skydiving tickets online. We didn’t purchase the photo and video packages until we got to Nzone’s drop zone. We got to the Skydiving Center in the early morning to check in, register, and watch a brief safety video. After all of that was complete, we took a 20 minute bus ride provided by Nzone to their drop zone.

Once we arrived we were able to watch other skydivers fall from the sky! They provided lockers to store your belongings and souvenirs to purchase at the gift shop! Then we flew into the sky and I jumped from 9,000ft! Then the plane flew higher to drop the jumpers who were diving 12,000 and 15,000 feet!

I remember falling from the sky and watching the ground rush toward me. In that moment, I wasn’t scared or nervous… I didn’t have time to think of that… all I thought about and observed was the landscape below me. It was unreal. I’ve never seen anything like it. I think it also made me fall in love with our planet even more and recharged my motivation to work my hardest to contribute to saving it.

When the parachute was pulled and we glided through the sky, that was when I felt the “fight or flight” mechanism through my entire body. My tandem instructor asked me if I wanted to hold the parachute and I quickly refused out of fear for my safety! (yes, I know, I’m a wuss) I tried to relax myself and focus on the beauty around me, but it sure was difficult.

When we finally landed, I couldn’t believe I just did that!! The memory of the freefall kept playing over and over again. I reunited with my friends and we shared our time with each other!

I’m so thankful I got to experience skydiving in Queenstown, New Zealand! I’m even more thankful to have gotten to experience it with my friends! It was the experience of a lifetime!

If you go to Queenstown, go skydiving! I can’t stress that enough!

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So long 2017!

Long time, no blog! Life has been pretty chaotic since I ended finals, traveled up the coast of Australia, arrived back home in NJ and enjoyed the holidays! The good news is I have so much planned for 2018 in regards to my blog. I have so much advice to give about living and traveling around Australia and New Zealand. As well as tips for college students looking to study abroad, and how to stay organized and at peace with the big change.

My best friend and I also officially signed on our first apartment. I plan on documenting the transformation from clean and simple to hipster bohemian chic with our own twist. With that, I plan on upping my Instagram aesthetic and posting more fashion related posts. Would you be interested in that? I’m super excited for 2018! What are you excited for?

I’ve also been thinking about changing my domain. Renee Roaming suggests to grow your online presence like her that you rebrand. In other words, she recommends changing your domain from the typical first and last name to an account name that has to do with the type of content you post to be more memorable. What do you think I should do? Comment below!

2017 was a great year for me. I started implementing self-love techniques I learned from my favorite self help books. I traveled quite a bit, visiting Colorado twice, California for two days, spending 5 months in Australia, 10 days in New Zealand, a week in Michigan, and Florida for Christmas. I narrowed my friend group to those who make me happy and inspire me to be my best self. I finally chose my undergraduate major, after changing it five times. I found anxiety medications that keep me grounded without bad side effects. And overall, I stayed consistently happy. I no longer let the thoughts of others effect my self-worth, I chose to look at the positives instead of the negatives, and I learned to do things my way. If I don’t want to do something, I don’t do it.

I hope 2018 is even better than last year. I can’t wait for what’s to come. I hope you had a happy holiday and have a good new year! What’s your new years resolutions?

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Lets talk about the inevitable

“Breathing in, I am aware that I am breathing in. Breathing out, I am aware that I am breathing out. Breathing in, I am grateful for this moment. Breathing out, I smile. Breathing in, I am aware of the preciousness of this day. Breathing out, I vow to live deeply in this day.” – Nhat Hanh

Breathing in, I admire the view in front of me as I write this. I am at Bondi Junction, sitting on the terrace of the top floor of the Bondi Westfield Mall. Breathing out, I listen to the murmur of cars passing on the street below me. Breathing in, I look out at the view. The Darling Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House are seen in the distance and trees blooming with purple leaves are scattered across the landscape of homes leading to the harbour. The sun shines on my skin and I soak in heat dressed in my black cardigan and high waisted jeans. I should be studying for my Marketing 101 Final tomorrow, but instead I am compelled to write about the thoughts consuming my brain the past few days.

“There will come a time when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything.” – John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

The above quote is pretty morbid, I know, but since my reading of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, that particularly quote has stuck in my head and has followed me around everyday I’ve lived since I read it two years ago. There is no doubt that I am fearful of oblivion, but it is inevitable and I’ve grown to except that. It has forced me to breath in and out with the gratefulness to be alive.

As I see it, life is an effort to grip before they slip through one’s fingers and slide into oblivion, the startling, the ghastly or the blindingly exquisite fish of the imagination before they whip away on the endless current and are lost forever in oblivion’s black ocean.” – Mervyn Peake

In the past four months, I’ve experienced so much. I’ve traveled to Australia and New Zealand, and I’ve met so many extraordinary people. I’ve had multiple moments of indescribable contentness, in which I was so mindful and aware of what was happening without wishing it were different. I felt fully alive and fully aware. I sat with the dead at Waverley Cemetary on the top of the cliffs in Bronte and soaked in the lack of animosity, violence and fear that consumes our world right now. I touched the shinning turquoise blue water at Lake Tekapo, New Zealand and starred at Mount Cook’s peaks across the water. I pranced through Eglington Valley, laid in the grace and watched the clouds cross the sky. I fell from the sky and watched the ground come closer and closer before I was jolted back to reality with the tug of the parachute. I sat in Hobart’s Botanical Gardens and let a lady bug crawl over my knuckles before it flew out of my sight forever. I walked the streets of Queenstown, New Zealand, felt the warmth of the sun shinning on my face during golden hour and had no doubt that I’d be back to that magical city.

“You get a strange feeling when you leave a place, like you’ll not only miss the people you love, but you miss the person you are at this time and place because you’ll never be this way ever again.” – Azar Nafash

But what about the places and people you’ll never see again? The places you know you’ll never go back to and the exact moments you’ll never get to experience again? I’ll go to a place I’ve never been before, and then I’ll probably never go to it again for the sake of fitting in the chance to visit more places I’ve never been before. Life is short. This bothers me. I don’t want to know that such moments of contentness may never experienced again.

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” – girlgi.com

A good friend of mine recently said to me, “Riley the thing you’ve always let happen is you’ve always been affected so deeply by things you don’t have control over, and letting them ruin your time. Relax and deal with these issues later at a better time. I believe in and love the young woman you are, but you have to be strong. There’s no other way.” If I did let the seemingly ridiculous and uncontrollable things that happen in life ruin every moment, how would I get by? Well, I probably wouldn’t and I’d probably end up in a psych ward. And I don’t want that because I want to continue traveling the world; I want to be a mother one day; I want to be able to provide for my parents and the family members who’ve given me more than I believe I deserve. I want a lot of things, and collapsing with the inevitabilities of life won’t get me any of those things.

“It feels good to be lost in the right direction.”

So now what? I leave Australia and may never come back, although I sure do hope that isn’t the case. Australia will always have a special place in my heart. This experience of being away from home, of being forced to leave the comfort of friends and family, to form new relationships and constantly leave my comfort zone, to form a new comfort zone, has caused me to grow so much. I knew I would change, but I didn’t think I’d change this much. What if I don’t feel comfortable in the home that once was my security blanket? What if I can’t relate to friends and family? What if I feel alone again? What if the “what-ifs” and “should-haves” eat my brain? How do I cope? How do I live with my overthinking and sometimes crippling anxiety?

“Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armour yourself with it, and it will never be used to hurt you.” – Tyrion Lannister, A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

That’s what I’ve done. I’ve armoured myself with my emotions. I will use these emotions and these thoughts to make me special; to make me money; and be remembered by everyone I come across. I’ll be fighting against the inevitabilities of oblivion and win. I will live life so full, and I will leave this Earth no longer scared of the darkness that comes after.

Bring it on.

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Preparing to Come Home

Halloween marks a month and 10 days until I return to the USA! However, I have mixed emotions about my return home. I am excited to be surrounded by my friends and family, but uneasy that such an epic point in my life is ending. I am excited to get an apartment with my best friend, but upset that I have to leave all the amazing friends I’ve made abroad. I am excited to get back to work and making money, but nervous I won’t have enough time to put genuine effort into my blog. With all these concerns being said, I think it is important to take a step back and remember to have faith.

In Chapter 25 of my all time favorite book, You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero, Jen talks about remembering to surrender.

“This doesn’t mean that we give up or discontinue taking action. This means we let go energetically, release our kung fu grip and create some space for what we want to come to us. It’s about allowing instead of forcing. It’s about releasing and trusting that if it’s in alignment with our life’s purpose, it will come back to us (or that something or someone even more perfect will come in its place). It’s about surrendering and letting The Universe do its thing while holding faith that our highest desire will come into our lives.”

In other words, instead of micromanaging to create a seemingly perfect and frankly unrealistic expectation of my life, I need to remember to not try and take charge of the situation but instead to have faith and gratitude to let the Universe (or God, or Goddess, or the Force, or gut, or intuition, or any damn Higher Power you believe exists) deliver. Worrying and being controlling over the outcomes of my future will create resistance, so instead, by joyfully taking on life as new things come into the picture, the Universe will conspire to attract what I need.
I have never been one to speak on or preach anything religious, but I think Jen organically and genuinely speaks a different perspective on the matter that I had never heard (in Chapter 2 of You Are A Badass) and I 100% recommend you check it out with an open mind.

Anyways, with my month and ten days in mind, it makes me reflect on the amazing three months I’ve had on exchange thus far. I am super proud of myself for making it this far my way. During the first semester of my freshman year at SDSU (you can read bit more about it here), I struggled with many unrealistic expectations for myself. As a notoriously emotional person, I expected myself to be able to easily embrace the stereotypical college experience; I had a picture of what I wanted my life to be like so solid in my mind that I couldn’t stop to embrace anything at all. So when I came to Australia, I vowed to just let things happen. It was when I didn’t rush to make non-genuine friendships that natural friendships took form; it was when I didn’t push myself beyond my realistic capabilities in school that I began getting good grades; it was when I needed a cheaper means of getting to campus than the bus everyday that my housemate started offering me rides to Uni (thanks Connor, hehe). I genuinely believe that the Universe brought things my way when I stopped trying to force things. I believe that everything I desire already exists; my faith in The Universe is stronger than my fear of not getting what I want.

I am excited about the future. I am excited for my mom to come to Australia, to show her the life I’ve built for myself here and to make her proud of how I’ve embraced it all; I am excited to be in my Aunt Jill’s powerful presence and to feed off her enthusiasm for life; I am excited to be in my father’s embrace, to know I’ve made him proud and to laugh at his notoriously clever dad-jokes; I am excited to see my brothers play their sports and to be able to attend their games again; I am excited to hear my best friend Caitlyn’s laugh in person and to apartment hunt for next semester; I am excited to spend the holidays with my family– with Aunt Lois, Aunt Jean, Uncle Anthony and my cousin’s Nicole and Nora; I am excited to decorate the Christmas tree, to sit at the dinner table with everyone I love in attendance and to be caught up on the amazing things in everyone’s lives; I am excited to have one of Michelle’s mother’s famous home cooked meals (tell Christine to make me some stuffed peppers, thanks Shell), to hear about all the headway she’s made in her future as a lawyer, and to eventually visit her at Michigan State; I am excited to get back in the presence of my brothers (who have different mother’s), Zack and Yanko, to laugh at their stupidity and to laugh together at everyone else’s; I am excited to hug Randal, to feel his beard on my face, to feel that “at-home” feeling I always get when I am in his presence; I’m excited to have “The V Team” back together, to laugh with Big Mark and to feed off each others energy (shout out Titty, Adam, and Dannyboy); and I’m excited to see my Max, to hold him so tight it makes up for all the monumental things I’ve missed while I’ve been gone, and to love him like I’ve never loved anyone else.

The future is bright. Thanks for reading.

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Watsons Bay Cider Festival

For the past four years the Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel has hosted the wildly successful Watsons Bay Cider Festival! While enjoying bites from a variety of food stalls and catchy live entertainment, favorite national and international cider brands offer tastes of their signature alcoholic beverages. To taste the different ciders, tokens are available for purchase! If you preorder tokens, the festival offers a deal in which you get 15 tokens and a free bottle of your choice for $30 AUD. It is worth it!

Getting to Watsons Bay is easy! You just take the ferry from Circular Quay to Watsons Bay by using your Opal card! Public transportation in Sydney is super easy to use. Don’t pass up the opportunity to use it!

The cider trail was made up of stands serving:

Young Henrys
Batlow Cider
James Squire Orchard Crush
Maison Sassy
The Hills Cider Company
Willie Smith’s Organic Cider
KIRIN
5 Seeds
Little Green Cider
Hoegaarden
Rekorderlig Cider
Coldstream Brewery

5 Seeds Apple Cider is my favorite!

My outfit was PERFECT for the 65F weather. My shirt is from American Eagle, my pants are from Missguided and my shoes are Converse I got off amazon.

It did start raining after an hour or so of us being at the festival, but we did not let that stop us from having a great time! I can’t wait to try more American ciders when I am of-age back in the US.

Thanks for reading! Are you a beer, cider or wine person? What’s your favorite cider?

Disclaimer: This post includes Amazon affiliate links. With a click of the advertisement or your purchase of the linked product, I will receive compensation.

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Clay Cliffs: A Must See in New Zealand

If you’re visiting New Zealand, don’t miss the Clay Cliffs near Omarama!!

New Zealand is a country full of extraordinary landscapes and the Clay Cliffs is definitely not one to forget. Tall pinnacles separated by narrow pathways, these formations are made of tons layers of gravel and silt formed by the flow of ancient glaciers millions of years ago. Only an hour and a half drive from Mount Cook National Park, these cliffs are a small stop along the road to Dunedin. 

There are a few things you should know before visiting the Clay Cliffs, but don’t worry– just be prepared!

You have pay a donation to get in

The cliffs are ten kilometres off the main highway and five kilometres of the road is gravel. My friends and I took our campervan on the gravel road and although it was bumpy, it made the treck just fine. The cliffs are privately owned so there is a $5 entry fee at the gate. But it is one of the best $5 you’ll pay in NZ!

Wear proper hiking shoes

I visited the Clay Cliffs in September, weather varies and if you’re caught going to Clay Cliffs the day after it rains– the clay gets super slippery and can easily collapse under your feet. Although the trail is only half a mile, the Nike running shoes I wore got soaked! The residue from the clay also lingered on my shoes and got all over the campervan once we were done. Checkout how to rent a campervan on New Zealand’s South Island here. I reccommend investing in a proper pair of hiking shoes before traveling to New Zealand in general– it’s worth the money!

Keep hiking

Like I said, the trail is only about half a mile but if you’re feeling adventurous you can keep climbing up the pillars and get some amazing photos!

I hope this gives you inspiration and convinces you to take the quick stop and visit the Clay Cliffs! You won’t regret it! If you have anymore questions, feel free to comment below or contact me privately!

Disclaimer: This post includes Amazon affiliate links. With a click of the advertisement or your purchase of the linked product, I will receive compensation.

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9 Things On My Sydney Bucketlist: October 2017

I apologize in advance for the picture overload in this post! Bianca, Tia and I had a wonderful day at the beach this past Thursday. The weather in Australia is finally getting above 80 degrees Fahrenheit (30ish degrees Celsius…I think)! Since starting my study abroad adventures in July, the weather has been in the 60s and 70s AND IT’S FINALLY WARM!!!! We’ve been eagerly awaiting summertime weather. I can’t wait to get tan and go home to New Jersey to a snowy December with tanned skin.

With the warmer weather, comes the opportunity to do more things outside! My October bucketlist has grown and I’m excited to share it with you.

Port Stephens – Dolphin Watching and Sand Dune Surfing

Port Stephens, which is located in the Hunter Region of New South Wales, is home to a magnificent bay and monumental sand dunes (the largest in the southern hemisphere)! Known for its Humpback whale and dolphin sitings, I’ve heard it is a must-do while in the Sydney area. Colourful Trips offers a cruise that takes you to dolphin watch and then sand slide down huge dunes and 4WD on the beach. My love for nature and adventure is calling me to see what all the hype is about for myself. When in Tasmania, a lovely couple we met in our tour group recommended we do this specific trip because they had such an amazing time.

Figure 8 Pools

Located south of Burning Palms Beach in Royal National Park, the Figure Eight Pools are a natural rock formation in an ocean rock platform. The 3.5km hike is a level four and is quite challenging. We’ve been told by others who have visited the epic pools that we should be prepared for a workout. The park can only be visited at low tide, so before we visit we’ll have to check when that is. Finding Lala recommends we use Willy Weather to check the tides. It can get super busy with tourists as well, so we are hoping to visit on a weekday to avoid a huge crowd. Be sure to stay updated on my blog, because I will be most definitely writing a blog post about my experience when I get the chance to go!

Taronga Zoo

Only a train ride away from the Macquarie University station, the zoo is home to Australia’s most notable creatures AND MORE! The zoo even has a few endangered species and a Gorilla exhibit. The zoo also provides an exceptional view of the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House! There are discounted prices for students so we can’t NOT take advantage of that.

Surf at Bondi Beach

Bianca and Tia have been itching to take surf lessons. I can totally understand because if you didn’t surf in Australia, did you even go there? Regardless, I feel like surfing in Australia is something talented surfers from around the world only dream to do. At Manly Beach, there are surfers everywhere and it is SO easy to rent a surf board. I’m sure it’s the same thing in Bondi, we just haven’t checked it out yet. When I was attending school at San Diego State University, I actually took a semester long surfing class! I know the basics of surfing and would probably skip the lesson. I’m definitely going to try it out again at least ONCE! Might not go very well…. but I’m optimistic!

Cathedral Rocks of Kiama

This distinctive rock formation in the northern portion of Kiama at the southern end of Jones Beach is a fascinating site. Having been eroding for many years, these volcanic rocks are (supposedly) amazing to photography! It is called Cathedral Rocks because they resemble the spires of a church!

 Cliff Jump

AroundYou.com.au suggests a few different cliff jumping spots that I’ll have to check out. Back home, my friends and I like to cliff jump at Bear Pond or Adam’s Falls. I love the exhilarating feeling and twist on the usual beach day. How cool would it be to cliff jump in Australia?!?!

Cider Festival

On Sunday October 22nd, the Watson Bay Boutique Hotel is hosting a cider festival! This is this specific cider festival’s fourth year, incorporating food trucks with cider tastings. The drinking age in Australia is eighteen and since being exposed to more alcoholic beverages I’ve found myself drawn to ciders. I’m not really a big beer drinker (however, I love me some red wine) and cider is a good substitute for that. With live entertainment, DJs, competitions, prizes and freebies, I am excited to try all the different kinds of ciders! The event will feature some popular national and international Cider brands, including my personal favorite– 5 Seeds!

Wollongong, Australia

When I was told you could see the Milky Way super clearly in Wollongong, it became a MUST DO on my bucketlist! I LOVE the stars…. I even wanted to be an astronaut and debated majoring in astronomy in college. Other than the beautiful star views, Wollongong is home to the Nan Tien Temple. It is the largest Buddhist Temple in the Southern Hemisphere! Known for it’s beautiful architecture, art and culture, it attracts people from all over the world! I think it’d be cool to experience something new and spiritual.

Luna Park

Luna Park is Sydney’s trippy carnival located across the harbor from Circular Quay. There are a plethora of rides, including the iconicly photographed ferris wheel! I am especially excited to visit Luna Park for their Halloscream: Revenge of the Forgotten Funfair event. From the 27th to 31st of October, the park incorporates spooky-themed attractions. Whether we go to the park during Halloween or on a regular day, it’ll to embrace a day as a kid!

59 days until I come home!!! 6 more weekends until I go to Melbourne for cheer nationals and my Mom and Aunt arrive in Sydney!!!! 6 more weekends to get all of these goals done!!!! Where has the time gone?!?! Thank you again for reading!

Do you have any bucketlist items you recommend me checking out while in Australia? Comment below!!

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10 Things

Hello bloggersphere! I want to start doing more posts in which I can open up and be more personal with my readers (that is the reason I started my blog in the first place)! I find it comforting to read my favorite bloggers and discover similarities between them and myself. Aspyn Ovard wrote a blog post where she wrote 12 Things and it was super cool to get a quick glimpse into what’s going on her life. I thought I’d give it a go!

  1. With my return to Sydney and start back up with classes since the semester break has ended, it’s been harder than I thought to get back into the swing of things. I have to admit (sorry Mom) that I did skip most of my lectures last week and have a long list of lectures I have to listen to online. I have made a conscious goal to attend all my classes this week and go to the gym every week day as well. Gotta get fit for bikini season here in Australia!
  2. There are 60 days until I return home to NJ. Less than half way there. Time is moving fast and all my weekends until my departure on December 10th are planned out. From cheer competitions to day trips to Sydney, I’ll be busy busy busy.
  3. Finals start November 13th. I only have two in-person finals, one for Marketing Fundamentals and one for my Climate Change class. My other two classes have final marks in the form of presentations. Grading at Macquarie is super rigorous, so I must admit that I am nervous.
  4. I really want to change my blog theme and update the website design. I love Aspyn Ovard‘s theme and Sartorial Scot. But I feel like I can’t update to a more sleek and professional appearance until my blog posts become more cohesive. What do you think?
  5. Should I change my blog name? My goal for this blog is emphasize travel, college and lifestyle. These areas of emphasis are all relevant in my life right now. I want to share my stories and give as much advice as I possibly can. As well as find a community of bloggers that I can relate to and create everlasting relationships. Young Adventuress recommends travel bloggers create a “title” that is an oversight for what the purpose of your blog is about. My name isn’t a brand. Or is it? How do I make it a brand and a reason for people to want to read what I have to say?
  6. My housemate let me borrow his copy of Russell Brand’s book “Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions.” I love reading memoirs, especially written by my favorite celebrities. As someone who has (minor and not serious at all) addictions myself, I am hoping this book will be relatable and helpful!
  7. November 24th through 28th I’ll be in Melbourne for cheer nationals! I’m super excited to spend a weekend with the team and spend our two free days exploring the city!
  8. On November 28th, my Mom arrives in Sydney! We’ve been spending the past few days creating our itinerary for when she and my Aunt Jill arrive (she arrives on November 17th and is doing an AWESOME tour of Australia)! I am getting super super excited! We’re going to a show at the Sydney Opera House, a Shawn Mendes concert, Byron Bay and Hamilton Island to scuba dive at the Great Barrier Reef!
  9. Macquarie University’s campus is a fashion show. Girls are dressed 10/10 every. single. day. I’d say the overall fashion of Australia is hipster but unique and chic. I’ve been trying to keep up but always finding myself envying the impeccable style of my fellow college-mates.
  10. I’m missing my friends and family from home very much. Not enough to halt me from getting out of bed everyday, but enough to have me thinking about them most of the day and wishing they were here to experience my adventure abroad with me.

The days and weeks really are going by super fast. Everyday I have something planned out for the duration of my trip abroad. I’m a big planner and I love having events and fun things planned to look forward too. My exchange friends have told me I should be a travel planner! Maybe I’ll have to look into a part time job in that field when I get back to the states. 😉

Happy Wednesday!! Thanks for reading. Get notifications for when I post by subscribing via email below or following me on bloglovin

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The Easiest Way To Road Trip To Mount Cook National Park

Mount Cook National Park is one New Zealand’s most famous destinations and home to New Zealand’s highest mountain top! It is also one of New Zealand’s must see destinations and an adventure you can’t miss.

After arriving in Christchurch, Mount Cook was our first major destination. The route we took from Christchurch to Mount Cook National Park was about a three hour drive, not including our 15-30 minute stops at Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki. No doubt a full day could’ve been dedicated to spending time in Tekapo, but with our tight one-week-long schedule we could only stop for pictures.

Check out my post on Lake Tekapo here.

Lake Pukaki

The drive to Mount Cook is unreal. Lavish landscapes and snow covered mountain tops line your view from all sides. It is hard to believe the view out the window is real, but it sure is.

Road to Mount Cook

Our Mount Cook experience did not quite play out the way we had hoped. We arrived to White Horse Hill Camping Ground thirty minutes before sundown. The campground is a gravel carpark at the start of multiple Mount Cook hikes. The overnight fee is $13 per adult and can be paid after park ranger hours by slipping the money into a box with your license plate number on it.

However, soon after we got settled in and began our first night in our campervan power and wifi free, it started thunder and lightening. We woke up the next day and the rain still was pouring down. The park ranger ended up not walking around to each van to check for payments and we ended up not getting to hike any of Mount Cook’s famous tracks.

We had planned on hiking Kea Point and Hooker Valley Track, a scenic walk with mountain, river and glacier views. It is a three hour long hike return. Since we missed this amazing hike, it is more of a reason to make an effort to return to New Zealand’s South Island and hike around Mount Cook. No doubt I’ll be back to New Zealand.

Thanks for reading! Talk to you soon xo.

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The Breathtaking Lake Tekapo

The drive to Mount Cook National Park is full of unavoidable stops. The first stop along Mount Cook Road is Lake Tekapo. When I first started researching destinations to visit on New Zealand’s South Island, I did not believe my eyes when I saw the photos of this lake. Three hours out of Christchurch, the waters really are various shades of blue ranging from aquamarine to teal. In the distance, the mountains are snow covered, begging to be pranced in. I could only imagine what this area looks like when spring is in full swing, the contrasting colors of the lake and flowers creating a dream like environment.

Lake Tekapo was the perfect way to start our New Zealand adventure. It set the tone for the rest of our week long campervan journey are the South Island. Stay tuned for more posts about our adventure!

For those planning on visiting Lake Tekapo, be sure to visit the Church of the Good Shepard and grab lunch in the Tekapo. There is also a gas station and this may be the last one for quite some time: be sure if your car or campervan’s tank is below half full, to fill up here!

Would you ever visit Lake Tekapo? What is one of your bucket list destinations?

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How to rent a campervan on New Zealand’s South Island

Want to travel New Zealand on a budget, while following your own personalized itinerary in a relatively condensed amount of time? Your perfect solution is renting a camper van! Trust me, it is easier than you think.

When researching a camper-van rental company, I found most bloggers recommended

My friends and I booked our campervan through Rankerz and had quite a pleasant experience. We rented the Britz Explorer, which is a mid range 4 berth campervan that comes with a fully equipped kitchen, bathroom, living area and two double beds. We paid $1,290 NZD with a full insurance/value pack. With full insurance, the BRITZ value pack includes liability reduction, single vehicle rollover cover, 1GB of WiFi, linen exchange, a picnic table and chairs, and snow chains if required. If we did not take the standard insurance package, we would’ve had to deposit $5,000 that would be taken from a credit card and refunded at return.

Our campervan

 

The campervan advertized as sleeping five, however it could squeeze eight. There are two queen size beds and a table that transforms into a cushioned bed as well. We ended up not using the transforming table because we slept three in one bed and two in the other. Pillows, sheets, comforters, multiple blankets and towels were provided. As well as silverware, pots pans, cutlery and most kitchen essentials. There isn’t anything you need to bring, everything was all taken care of!

 

My only complaint about my campervan experience was the bathroom and shower situation. After dumping our toilet waste, our bathroom began overflowing with water and waste from below. We brought our campervan to the Maui-shop in Queenstown, where the attendant cleaned up the mess and told us we just didn’t click in the waste container properly. However, the issue persisted for the duration of our trip and we ended up not using the bathroom and shower all together. The next time I rent a campervan, I won’t be renting one with a bathroom and shower combination. Bathrooms can be found at various pit stops along roads surrounding national parks and every powered campsite we stayed at provided showers and bathrooms that were a pleasure to use. If you can deal with stopping every so often, renting a campervan with a bathroom isn’t a necessity.

I hope my tips were helpful if you’re planning on renting a campervan on New Zealand’s South Island or inspires you to consider it as an option! Exploring NZ has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life and campervaning the country with my new friends brought us so much closer! More blog posts surrounding the topic of traveling New Zealand will be out soon! Make sure to stay in the loop by subscribing to my blog via email or on bloglovin.

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Festival of Winds, Bondi Beach, Sydney

 

Hello! On Sunday September 10th some friends and I took the train to Bondi Beach to experience The Festival of Winds. Every year, Bondi Beach hosts Australia’s largest flying kite festival! The skies are filled with kites of all shapes and sizes and the beach is packed with people! It was 60 degrees but the sun was blaring! We joke that there really is a huge hole in the ozone layer over Australia 😉 There was food tents alining the beach and ice cream trucks galore! We relaxed, ate and enjoyed the view of a sky filled with kites. Hope you enjoy the photos!

I was worried a skirt wouldn’t be warm enough, but it ended up being just right. My pale pink skirt is from Cotton On, my bodysuit is from Forever 21, my jean jacket is from T.J. Max and my shoes are Toms.

Thank you so much for reading! How cool is that dragon kite? Dracarys! What is your favorite kite?

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My Plans for Semester Break

Seven weeks of Uni at Macquarie has come to its end and that means the entire student body gets the luxury of two weeks off! Most Australians take this time to relax, work and spend time with family. On the contrary, abroad/exchange students use these fourteen days to explore Australia and the surrounding countries. How could one not seize this amazing opportunity?!

During my semester break, I will be spending a week traveling New Zealand’s South Island and another week exploring Tasmania, Australia.

When deciding where I wanted to spend my semester break, there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to visit New Zealand. Every photo I’ve ever seen and person I’ve talked to has described the tranquil, serene and out-of-this-world beauty that New Zealand beholds. As I am only a three hour flight away from New Zealand in Sydney, I could not pass up this opportunity.

After finalizing that New Zealand was the place I would be traveling to during the break, my travel companions and I began our research. We decided the most cost effective and efficient method to explore the country in a condensed amount of time would be to rent a camper van!

 

Our five-person-camper-van includes a toilet, shower, fridge/freezer, gas stove, microwave, cooking utensils, pots and pans, and hot and cold pressurized water! This way we will be saving money on hotel costs, as well as food costs by utilizing our own kitchen! We are renting our camper van through Rankers.

New Zealand’s South Island contains 360 views of beauty 24/7. With research from bloggers and tips from local travel agencies, I compiled a fast paced itinerary that hits all of the major natural wonders of the island in eight days. I’m sure things will change as we fight daylight or become encapsulated by a certain mountain or lake, but I wanted to share what my tentative itinerary is so I can finalize what I believe to be the perfect itinerary in a later blogpost. Make sure you follow me on Bloglovin to be notified on future posts!

New Zealand Road Trip Map

Day 1: Christchurch to Mount Cook

Our stay in Christchurch will be short, but we will be back! After picking up our camper van and stopping at the grocery store, we will be heading off to Mount Cook. Mount Cook is home to New Zealand’s highest mountain and crystal clear lakes. On our five hour drive to Mount Cook, we will be visiting Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki and taking in the beauty that is New Zealand for the first time!

Day 2: Mount Cook to Dunedin

Since Day 1 will be focused on getting to Mount Cook and stopping at the beautiful destinations along the way, Day 2 will be spent exploring Mount Cook. We will be visiting Kea Point and hiking the Hooker Valley Track. This track is about 4 hours long, but relatively easy to accomplish. I’ve read it’s worth it! After we finish our hike and eat lunch, we will be departing for Dunedin. On the way to Dunedin, we will find ourselves at the Clay Cliffs and Elephant Rocks and will leave exploring to Dunedin for tomorrow.

Day 3: Dunedin to Milford Sound

Dunedin has so much to do! Although it is heading into spring in New Zealand while we are there, I am hoping we might be able to enjoy some time at the beach. We’ll be visiting Hoopers Inlet, Organ Pipes, Tunnel and St. Clair Beach to touch the water and catch some sun. We will also be visiting New Zealand’s only castle, Larnach Castle! After we take in all Dunedin has to offer, we will be driving five hours to Milford Sound.

Day 4: Milford Sound to Queenstown

Commonly confused to be a sound due to its name, the Milford Sound is actually a fjord. Otherwise known as the 8th wonder of the world, the best view of the Milford Sound is on a cruise. We’ll be embarking on a nature cruise at 10:30 am and will be spending the next 2 hours in awe of the same place The Lord of The Rings, Jurassic Park (1997), and Alien: Covenant (2017) was filmed! After we finish the tour, we’ll make our way to Queenstown. The road from the Milford Sound is also super famous for it’s spectacular views. We will be seeing Monkey Creek, the Mirror Lakes, and Eglington Valley! Be ready for tons of stunning pictures.

Day 5-6: Queenstown

Days 5 and 6 will be dedicated to enjoying Queenstown. On the first day, we will be catching the sunset on Ben Lomond’s Track and taking on the 5 to 7 hour hike. Afterwards, we will enjoy dinner at the Skyline Restaurant. On our second day in Queenstown, we will hopefully be skydiving or bungee jumping and visiting the Queenstown Gardens. Don’t tell my Mom! From Queenstown we will be heading to Wanaka to hike the breathtaking Roy’s Peak in the morning.

Day 7: Wanaka to Christchurch

Originally the plan was to spend day 7 traveling to the Franz Josef glacier, however it is quite out of the way. We decided to hike Roy’s Peak for sunset and then take a different road back to Christchurch for our flight the next day. We are going to be stopping at Lake Hawea, Haast Pass, Fantail Falls and Lake Matheson. The drive from Lake Matheson to Christchurch is six hours, but I think the drive out of the way will be worth the views.

Day 8: Christchurch

After a quick visit to Christchurch Botanical Gardens and we drop off our campervan, the group and I will be taking a flight from Christchurch to Melbourne for a quick layover before heading to Hobart, Tasmania.

After New Zealand, I am spending nine days in Tasmania! Why Tasmania? Why not Fiji or Thailand or Cairns? Well, I consider myself more of a hiker and breathtaking scenery-lover over a beach person. And flights to Fiji and Thailand were outrageously expensive. I will be visiting Cairns in December when my mom comes to visit!

We decided the easiest way to explore Tasmania would be to have it organized through a travel company. Unlike our New Zealand trip, where we are in complete control of our activities, our Tasmania trip has all our activities set in place! I am hoping it’ll be a relaxing and awesome experience!

Day 1: Mount Field National Park and Lake St. Clair

From Hobart, we will be heading north to the rainforest at Mount Field National Park! At this park we will see the beautiful Russell Falls and some of the tallest trees in the world! Then we will head to Lake St. Clair, which is the deepest lake in Australia!

Day 2: Montezuma Falls and Henty Dunes

On this day, we will have an action packed day! We are starting it off by visiting Montezuma Falls, which is Tasmania’s highest waterfall! North of the falls, we will see the massive Henty Dunes and climb to the top for a view of the Southern Ocean! The waves crashing on this beach last touched land on the other side of the world!

Day 3: Cradle Mountain

Honestly, Cradle Mountain is the place I am most excited to visit in Tasmania. It is stunning. After we hike to the top of Marion’s Lookout, we will be traveling to Tasmania’s second largest city, Launceston.

Day 4: Bay of Fires

The Bay of Fires is named Lonely Planet’s Number 1 destination for 2009, home to some of the clearest water and hopefully we’ll be able to swim! After we visit the Bay of Fires and see little penguins, we’ll be going to the Pyengana Dairy Company for cheese tasting.

Day 5: Wineglass Bay and Freycinet National Park

After a picnic lunch, we’ll be visiting the stunning Wineglass Bay. After being awestruck by the amazing views, we are driving down the coast to Kate’s Berry Farm!

Day 6: Mount Wellington and Mona Ferry

The day will start with hiking the summit of Kunanyi/Mount Wellington. We will be hiking the Organ Pipes walk, see the Springs and Salamanca waterfront. After, we will board a ferry to Mona museum, which is described by its creator as a ‘subversive adult Disneyland.’ Mona is Tasmania’s most visited tourist attraction and offers visitors a unique and memorable experience!

So there it is! That is what I will be doing for my semester break! How is it already here?! Time has flown! I feel like it was just yesterday it was May and I was sitting back home wondering what the end of the year has in store for me. Like I said earlier, I plan on writing a seperate blog post in the future to finalize “The Perfect New Zealand Itinerary In A Week” and “Tasmania in a Week”! In the meantime, I’ll be writing individual blog posts during the duration of my trip as often as possible, depending on wifi! I can’t wait to share my own pictures! Thanks for reading!

Do you have any recommendations of places we should visit while in New Zealand and Tasmania? Comment below and let me know!

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Winter in Sydney, Australia

It’s “winter” in Sydney! Or is it? Who knows! This past Sunday, the weather peaked to 80 degrees for the first time since being in Australia. There was not a cloud in the sky, the sun was shining and the breeze was warm. Bianca and I’s Australian housemate and his friend decided to take the Americans to Dee Why Beach! The water was a cold mixture of teal, aquamarine, and blue. I can’t wait to spend many more days basking in the sun on Australia’s beautiful beaches.

Thank you Tia for these lovely candid photos!

Along the beach, the streets bustled with people yearning to embrace the sun. The food was delicious and atmosphere was surreal.

I am in Australia, guys!

Hope you enjoyed the pictures and thank you for reading!

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